It seems every generation of faith has a litmus test – You know, that “thing” that determines whether a person is orthodox or heretic, safe or dangerous.
What do you think today’s litmus test is? Women’s roles? Abortion? Or perhaps homosexuality?
Recently I’ve been talking with others about the battle ensuing within our faith communities on homosexuality. We hear the battle lines drawn, don’t we?
Both sides have become leery of publically sharing their views. (Orthodox or heretic? Safe or dangerous?)
Christianity has always had it’s battles; Arianism vs. Athanasius, the Crusades, the Inquisition, the Reformation, Catholic vs. Protestants, etc. Must I go on? The battle lines on homosexuality in America may not look as dark as the Inquisition but deep wounds still abound. People are ostracized, there’s name-calling, fear, fractured relationships, suffering …
I think, as a female preacher, I’m particularly sensitive to how we disagree with one another. On some small scale I have experienced fractured relationships over divisive issues such as the role of women in the Church. It grieves me. I think it grieves many of you too.
We’ve got to find ways to have this dialogue without deeply harming each other. I believe being embodied, incarnate; present in the flesh plays a huge role in accomplishing that. Over and over again I hear stories of people who greatly opposed homosexuality – until their child “came out.” Suddenly there relationship with this loved one forces them to back to re-evaluate their theology – their love- their praxis. Incarnationality keeps us from staying distant and objectifying others, especially those with whom we disagree.
Frost, in his book Incarnate correctly states, “Objectification creates distance, separating us from the person and their ideas. It allows us to discuss them and use extensions of the metaphoric world to scrutinize them objectively. It also always us to distance ourselves from culpable actions or unfair caricatures. Such objectification depersonalizes them and almost always leads to discounting, downplaying, victimization and bullying. “(Frost, Incarnate 21.)
This past week we hosted a salon on homosexuality. I was nervous because I knew there would be homosexual Christians and church leaders in the room. Christians with opposing views – wounded Christians – can’t you hear the whispers “more truth” “more love.”
Instead of a war being wage what ensued was a beautiful evening of truth, dignity and compassion. I sat back and watched people leaned in. They desired to listen and learn – to speak their pain but not so much so that it shut down the conversation.
Here’s what one woman emailed about her experience.
What was so eye and ear opening for me was that most people at this study were or had family/friends who were homosexual. The kind of discussion that ensued most likely wouldn’t have happened at a regular church bible study where discussion sometimes tends to be one-sided and consist of somewhat scripted “Sunday school responses” as opposed to sharing hard controversial real life experiences on the topic. Our conversation was non slanderous, from the heart, pertinent, constructive and meaningful. Another distinction that was made clear to me was that a lot of scriptures talk about sinful homosexual acts (i.e. rape) as opposed to loving homosexual relationships.
I loved what the couple sitting beside you had to contribute. Especially when the fellow said he couldn’t have found the love for his daughter on his own, that God intervened and restored this love for him. (Why are we constantly surprised by God’s awesomeness?) He and his daughter were able to get past their issues, and have a renewed, accepting and loving relationship. That didn’t mean the dad condoned homosexuality but was blessed by God to be able to accept what couldn’t be changed, to “let go and let God”, and to love again.
I believe that I was meant to be at this bible study my heart was really opened up to this topic. I personally believe that God created us physically with the intent of heterosexual relationships. However some people for some reason are not naturally inclined this way. He created them also. So I pray that God would instill in me an attitude of Christian love and respect toward these deserving individuals, for me to think and act in a way that is pleasing to Him. Ultimately this study was scripture based we being Christians the common denominator.
(Gilligan, In Her Voice)